BUS drivers in Bradford are being urged to vote for strike action in a dispute over overtime as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Unite union is set to hold a ballot among staff working at the depot in Bowling Back Lane amid claims staff are working long hours to cover for absent colleagues.

Unite has issued a notice of potential forthcoming industrial action to First Bradford staff who are part of the union. It must first go to a vote.

The notice, from Unite the Union Regional Officer Darren Rushworth, states: “The Union intends to conduct a ballot for industrial action of the following members – Bus Drivers.”

It also explains that voting papers will be sent out on Monday, November 23. It

continues: “The names of the members to be balloted are available by contacting your local site Union representative. “If you are entitled to vote in the ballot, please check that you are on the list and that your address is accurately recorded.”

The Unite the Union Bradford Branch Committee is recommending that members vote for strike action.

A dispute notice sent by Branch Secretary Taj Salam said: “Dear colleagues, please find attached the dispute notice that has been served on First in Bradford management today, the notice is self-explanatory.

“The ballot papers will be coming out from, or on, November 23, 2020. Unite the Union NE302/7 Branch Committee recommendation is to vote for strike action.

“We will be sending out further details and breakdown of the dispute in due course. “In the meantime, if you do wish to discuss anything or have a question, please do call into the union office.”

It is believed the dispute centres on bus drivers having to work extra hours in order to cover for those who are temporarily off work in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

Managing director of First West Yorkshire, Paul Matthews, said the current working arrangements had been “fully agreed” with Unite.

He added: “We are disappointed that the Trade Union locally has decided to proceed with plans to ballot its members.

“The working arrangements that we have in place have been fully agreed with the Trade Union to provide the flexibility to manage any change in the current circumstances, maintain employment opportunities and ensure we maintain effective services for customers as efficiently as possible, as is the requirement of the essential support funding we currently receive.

“We remain willing to continue discussions to find a satisfactory way forward.”

The Telegraph & Argus contacted Unite the Union for comment.